11 Plants and Animals Scientifically Named After Fictional Characters

Oedipina complex, the Gamboa worm salamander.
Oedipina complex, the Gamboa worm salamander. / Jan Meerman, iNaturalist // CC BY-NC 4.0

Scientific names for flora and fauna hail from a variety of sources. Here are 11 of the most unusual Latin names derived from fictional characters in classic novels, plays, and comic books.

1. Oedipina complex // Gamboa Worm Salamander

This species of neotropical salamander is named for Sophocles’s drama Oedipus Rex and Sigmund Freud’s famous psychoanalytic theory based on it.

2. Iago garricki // Longnose Houndshark

A fish with a genus named after the notorious villain of Shakespeare’s Othello.

3. Bagheera kiplingi // Jumping Spider

This species of Central American jumping spider is named after Bagheera—a benevolent panther who mentors young Mowgli in Rudyard Kipling’s The Jungle Book. Described in 2009, it was the first predominantly vegetarian spider known to science.

4. Han solo // Trilobite

The genus name, Han, refers to the Han nationality, China’s largest ethnic group. When the time came to assign a species name to this long-extinct trilobite native to modern China, paleontologist Samuel Turvey invoked George Lucas’s beloved nerf herder.

5. Geragnostus waldorfstatleri // Trilobite

Han solo wasn’t the only trilobite to get a humorous name from Turvey. He thought this fossil’s head resembled The Muppet Show’s beloved hecklers Statler and Waldorf.

6. Gojirasaurus quayi // Dinosaur

Gojira is the original Japanese name for Godzilla, a name that’s appropriate for this 220-million-year-old predator. At nearly 18 feet, it's the earliest-known large carnivorous dinosaur.

7. Gollum suluensis // Sulu Gollumshark

This New Zealand shark is named for Gollum of J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Lord of the Rings. It is not, however, also named for George Takei’s character Hikaru Sulu of the original Star Trek series, but rather a sea in the Philippines.

8. Spongiforma squarepantsii // Fungus

You’d think that an animal named for Spongebob Squarepants would be a sponge. But Spongiforma squarepantsii is actually a type of mushroom described in 2010.

9. Sauroniops pachytholus // Dinosaur

Because only the upper skull of this carnivorous dinosaur—including a single eye socket—was found, it was named after another Lord of the Rings villain: the fiery eye of Sauron.

10. Otocinclus batmani // Catfish

The tail spot on this South American armored catfish species reminded ichthyologist Pablo Lehmann of Gotham City’s masked vigilante.

11. Tetragnatha quasimodo // Spider

This Hawaiian spider species is named for the title character of Victor Hugo’s novel The Hunchback of Notre Dame.